Linda Nemec Foster

Linda Nemec Foster is the author of eight collections of poetry including Amber Necklace from Gdansk and Ten Songs from Bulgaria. Her new book, Talking Diamonds, will be published in 2009 by New Issues Press.





The Cemeteries near the Ukraine Border

The dead are orthodox. They want everything just so: cut flowers arranged in a perfect bouquet above their hearts; freshly starched bows of white linen neatly attached to their gravestones. Even the mourners have to pay attention to protocol. Heads must be covered, hands folded in prayer, no distracted gazes to the right or to the left. The dead are always straight ahead-in your face, up close and personal. "Don't you dare forget us," they demand. And the old women near the Ukraine border never do. On market day they buy extra bread then cross the San River to walk to the cemeteries. They cover their gray hair as if they anticipate rain. Toss small crumbs filled with rye and poppy seed amidst the crowded crosses, the rusting crucifixes nailed to trees. They watch the beaks of the blackbirds take the bread to heaven and pray that the dead will get fat and be satisfied. Even though on gray days, it seems like only the clouds hear their prayers.


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